IT MIGHT be the fourth rather than third round, but the promise of a shock still keeps everyone in thrall this weekend as the big guns enter the Scottish Cup.
Reporters sent to cover games will be armed with facts and figures referencing past giant-killing adventures in case it is their game which is suddenly thrust into the spotlight. It could happen in Huntly, where Dundee will tread with trepidation. It might happen at Palmerston Park, where the most romantic sounding tie of the day is staged – Queen of the South v Linlithgow Rose. It could, even, occur in front of live television cameras, with Sky having selected Clyde v Dundee United as their match of the day in the hope that an upset is on the cards.
Almost unimaginable is the thought that Celtic or Rangers might come a cropper at home to Stirling Albion and East Stirling, in what on paper look like the ultimate in one-sided clashes. Celtic simply don't lose to a First Division team at home in the Scottish Cup, do they?
1 BERWICK RANGERS 1, RANGERS 0 First round, 28 January 1967
Even when we acknowledge that the gap between rich and poor clubs has since grown much wider, this still must take pole position. Rangers would months later reach the final of the Fairs Cup, where they lost to Bayern Munich. Berwick Rangers were struggling part-timers in the Second Division. But fate paired them together on a January afternoon in 1967, and the consequences still thrill those who want to believe every dog has its day. This was undoubtedly Berwick's, thanks to Sammy Reid's winner. As The Scotsman football writer John Rafferty wrote at the time: "It was Arnold Palmer missing a six-inch putt, it was Arkle tripping over a matchstick, and it was Walter McGowan knocking down Cassius Clay."
2 CELTIC 1, INVERNESS CT 3 Third round, 8 February 2000
As well as marking the beginning of Celtic's woes against Inverness, this result signalled the end of John Barnes' brief reign as manager. They lost again in 2003 in another Scottish Cup tie, while as recently as December the Parkhead side tasted their first ever league defeat against Inverness, losing 3-2 after being 2-0 ahead. But both these defeats occurred on the banks of the Moray Firth. The 3-1 loss in 2000 was not just a heavy reversal, but it happened in front of disbelieving eyes at Parkhead. Barry Wilson's early opener was levelled by Celtic's Mark Burchill, but an own goal from Lubomiir Moravcik and a Paul Sheerin penalty sealed the win for Steve Paterson's Inverness. The next day Barnes was sacked.
3 CLYDE 2, CELTIC 1 Third round, 8 January 2006
THE pre-match build-up was all about Roy Keane's debut. In the event, it was another debutant, the Chinese international centre-half Du Wei, who made a significant impact on the result – just not in the way Celtic wanted. He was substituted at half-time, with Clyde already 2-0 up thanks to goals from Craig Bryson and Eddie Malone. Celtic, six points clear at the top of the SPL at the time, had no answer save for Majiec Zurawski's late consolation. The result could have been much more embarrassing, with the home side – including many players brought to the club after open trials held in the summer – having had the ball in the net on five occasions. Clyde also missed a penalty.
4 FRASERBURGH 1, DUNDEE 0 First round, 31 January 1959
A cautionary tale ahead of Dundee's trip to face Highland League opposition in the shape of Huntly this afternoon. Dundee finished the season in fourth place in the First Division, and were three years away from winning the Scottish title. But against the Broch they were victims of arguably the greatest Scottish Cup shock to that point. Fraserburgh scored just a minute before the interval, and hung on for their most famous victory. The scorer of the winner was Johnny Strachan, a gas board clerk.
5 STENHOUSEMUIR 2, ABERDEEN 0 Fourth round, 19 February 1995
The sheer scale of Aberdeen's post-1991 decline was not fully appreciated until this memorable afternoon at Ochilview. Even in a season when the Pittodrie side battled with relegation this came as a major surprise. Just the week before, Aberdeen had beaten Rangers. But this trip confirmed how abject the team actually were, and two goals from dairy farmer Tommy Steele eased Terry Christie's team into the last eight.
6 EAST FIFE 2, HIBERNIAN 0 Third round replay, 31 January 1984
This wasn't Hibs' most glorious era, while East Fife, their third-round opponents, ended the season runners-up in the Second Division. Still, it was shock enough when Dave Clarke's team held Hibs at Easter Road in the first match, never mind when they went on to win 2-0 in the replay. It was the first time a team from the bottom league had beaten a Premier Division side since reconstruction in 1975. The Bayview side went ahead in the first half through Tom McCafferty, but heroics from Hibs goalkeeper Alan Rough – who was found after the game to have suffered a broken ankle – kept the tie alive until local hero Stevie Kirk rose to bullet a header into the net for the second, clinching goal. Hibs were to experience further Scottish Cup embarrassment in 1999, beaten by Second Division Stirling Albion after a replay. At least only one division separated the teams then.
7 RANGERS 0, HAMILTON 1 Third round, 31 January 1987
Not the greatest giant-killing act of all time, and not even the greatest giant-killing act featuring Adrian Sprott. He had played for Stenhousemuir in the win over Aberdeen (see above) but here he took centre stage at Ibrox with an early goal after seven minutes, although the fact both teams were in the Premier Division at the time is often forgotten.
Still, the result, was significant enough. Sprott's goal was the first conceded by Rangers goalkeeper Chris Woods in 1,196 minutes of play – a British record. The following season Graeme Souness' side went down 2-0 to Dunfermline in another shock exit, this time in the fourth round.
Hamilton ended the season being relegated, while Rangers clinched the championship by six points from Celtic.
8 HEARTS 0, FORFAR 1 Fourth round, 13 February 1982
Forfar were no strangers to incredible feats in the Scottish Cup, with Rangers usually bringing the best out of the Station Park side. This, though, was a victory, while in their battles with Rangers the Angus side were ultimately thwarted, including at the semi-final stage later in this season.
This fourth-round win against Hearts set the ball rolling. The Tynecastle side were struggling in the First Division, and the crowd was a paltry 5,600. Stevie Hancock, a former Celtic reserve, scored the winner for the Second Division team. Hearts missed out on promotion but went up the following season.
9 INVERNESS TH 3, KILMARNOCK 0 Third round, 9 February 1985
Third-bottom of the Highland League at the time and having struggled to beat Spartans in the previous round, hopes were not high in the Highlands that Thistle might dispense with Kilmarnock, themselves in low spirits in the Second Division. But goals from Dave Milroy, Gordon Hay and Brian Fraser sent Thistle through in front of 2,500 fans at Kingsmills Park. Eddie Morrison, the Kilmarnock manager, was target No 1 for the Kilmarnock fans who had made the long journey north, with police required to intervene. Thistle were amply rewarded, handed Celtic in the next round. Although they lost 6-0, a useful sum of 7,626 was earned from the trip to Parkhead.
10 FALKIRK 4, HEARTS 0 Third round, 25 January 2003
One of goalkeeper Craig Gordon's early games is not an occasion he will recall fondly. Hearts wilted in the cauldron that was Brockville, with their First Division opponents four goals up by half-time. Chief architect was Collin Samuel, who had collected a hat- trick within half an hour. Falkirk took it easier in the second half, as did Samuel, who left for a week's trial at Everton on the Monday. Now playing for FC Toronto, after an unsuccessful period with Dundee United.